Veterans try to jump hurdles to get jobs
By Janet Lundquist email@example.com July 11, 2012 5:44PM
Coal City resident David Cherven, Sr., (right) fills out information for Osman Dubon (left), account executive for ManufacturingWorks Chicago Workforce Center, during a Veterans Job Fair by the Veterans Outreach Program of Illinois at VFW Cantigny Post 367 Wednesday, July 11, 2012, at 826 Horseshoe Drive in Joliet. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Job fair for veterans
The 100,000 Jobs Mission will host a hiring event for military veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s UIC Forum, 725 W. Roosevelt Road.
More than 64 top employers will participate and seek to fill jobs in the Chicago area — and nationwide — ranging from entry-level to managerial positions.
Job seekers are encouraged to register online before the event at 100000jobsmission.com.
Participants also should bring multiple copies of their resume and be prepared to be interviewed.
Updated: August 13, 2012 1:26PM
JOLIET — Unemployed military veterans pounded the pavement in Joliet on Wednesday, resumes tucked under their arms.
The Cantigny Veterans of Foreign Wars post was filled with potential employers in a job fair for veterans sponsored by the Veteran Outreach Program of Illinois.
Tom Costello, 56, of Joliet recently was laid off after working 11 years as a truck driver.
He spent 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps as an aircraft mechanic. But his certification didn’t transfer over to the civilian realm.
“If I could get anything that pays decent, I’d be happy,” Costello said.
The fact that certifications earned in the military do not transfer is a problem for many vets, said Tom Gutierrez, associate director of the Veteran Outreach Program of Illinois.
“A truck driver, a nurse, a mechanic — they have to get recertified as a civilian. That takes time, effort and money,” Gutierrez said.
And while veterans can get money for school and a monthly stipend of $1,300 to $1,500 a month from Veterans Affairs while they are a student, that amount isn’t enough for some to support a family, he said.
“These job fairs are about meeting people, getting contact information, being able to follow up with these people and really take hold of your own employment situation,” Gutierrez said.
Robert Ewing traveled from Kankakee to visit the fair. The 26-year-old received a medical retirement from the U.S. Army in 2010 and hasn’t been able to find a good job since.
“There really isn’t much for combat infantrymen that transfers over,” said Ewing, who spent six years in the Army, one in Iraq.
“The only places I could find to hire me is McDonald’s or a gas station,” he said. “Going from leading men into combat and being responsible for millions of dollars in equipment to that ... it kind of hurts.
“Everyone wants experience or (a degree),” he said.
Bill Williams of Romeoville, 65, was looking for work to pay the bills.
“At this age I didn’t think I’d have to do anything,” said Williams, a Vietnam veteran. “I had to switch my paradigm.”
Jez Calixto, a human resources recruiter for UPS who attended the fair, said the company knows veterans generally make good employees.
“You know they’re going to be on time. They’re going to be disciplined. They have a sense of responsibility,” Calixto said.
“They tend to have a very good work ethic, which is valuable,” said Carleen Rivera, also an HR recruiter for UPS.
In Illinois, it now could benefit businesses financially to hire veterans.
Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill Monday that increases the state tax credit for employers who hire veterans from 10 percent to 20 percent of annual wages. It also increases the annual cap from $1,200 to $5,000.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says the unemployment rate among male veterans from age 18 to 24 who have served since September 2001 is roughly 29 percent. For nonveterans of the same age group, it’s 17 percent.